Wood product manufacturing operative

Occupation overview

This occupation is found in the manufacturing sector, producing wood products for the construction and furniture industries. Wood product manufacturing is at the engineering end of woodworking and forms a critical part of the emerging pre-manufactured solutions sector, identified in the Farmer Review as key to the future of construction. It supplies products to the housing, commercial, public and building sectors. Employers range from small to large, with a prevalence in the medium to large end of the market. Specialism in single product type is particularly common in the larger end of the market.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to produce high volume, repetitive, engineered products from timber. Presenting a wide and varied specification for both external and interior applications, products such as roofing components, windows, doors, door-sets, staircases and other timber construction items including trussed rafters, spandrel panels, metal web beams, and I-beams. As well as utilising traditional materials, they use engineered and modified timbers to support product design and delivery, for example Accoya and Thermowood. They cut, layout and assemble materials, working to a specification. Depending on the product, they may install fixtures and fittings, apply finishes and add glazing systems. Wood product manufacturing operatives typically work individually but can also form part of a larger production team and will report to the production supervisor/manager. Workplaces can be wide ranging from small workshops to large state of the art manufacturing facilities.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with customers, delivery personnel, design office, internal stores and suppliers, depending on the size of the organisation.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for completing their own work to specification, with minimal supervision, ensuring they meet set deadlines. They are responsible for meeting quality requirements and working in accordance with health and safety and environmental considerations.


  • Comply with health, safety and environmental requirements, for example safe use of personal and respiratory protective equipment, local exhaust ventilation, statutory regulations and industry standards/codes of practice.
  • Identify risks and hazards in the workplace and apply appropriate control measures.
  • Comply with organisational and statutory environmental and sustainability considerations, for example disposal of waste, recycling of materials and efficient use of resources.
  • Communicate - verbal and/or written, for example with colleagues and/or customers.
  • Plan work to undertake wood product manufacturing operations.
  • Read and interpret specifications, diagrams and work instructions, and following these instructions.
  • Select the correct type and quantity of components and materials.
  • Prepare the work area before undertaking the work.
  • Identify faults and issues, for example incorrect or defective wood, defective machinery; and applying solutions.
  • Pack and store products and components.
  • Select, set up and operate machinery, tools and equipment used to produce wood components.
  • Prepare and operate Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) equipment.
  • Use and maintain jigs and templates for wood product manufacturing operations.
  • Position wood components and apply manual and mechanical cramps to ensure products are secured and in accordance with the work specification.
  • Assemble wood components to the work specification and given tolerances.
  • Sand materials and de-nib.
  • Apply adhesives to wood components.
  • Apply finishes to wood products, for example stains, sealers, basecoats and paint finishes.
  • Install fixtures and fittings to wood products, for example ironmongery, seals, ancillary metal work and fixings, nail plates and staples.
  • Carry out glazing operations, for example install glass to window or door.
  • Check and inspect work to ensure it meets the work specification; undertake rectification or rework where necessary.
  • Report work outcomes and/or problems.
  • Complete the handover process to other manufacturing process functions/teams.
  • Complete work documentation, for example job sheets, time cards.


  • The wood product manufacturing industry, its background and importance.
  • Commercial operations and how they contribute; key functions involved in the wood product manufacturing process.
  • Manufacturing processes used to produce the end-product, such as selecting and using the appropriate machinery to perform the task/operation required, sequence of the production process including finishing, packaging and storing products.
  • Types of customers (for example supplier, client) and customer requirements in terms of product quality, packaging and delivery, for example satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
  • Quality standards and product accreditation processes for wood product manufacture, for example ISO 9001:2, independent third-party accreditation.
  • Health and safety, including the safe use of personal and respiratory protective equipment, local exhaust ventilation, compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), organisational and statutory safe systems of work, controlling dust and manual handling.
  • Different materials used to manufacture wood products and components, including different species and types of wood, composite panels (for example, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), plywood), adhesives, glass, ironmongery, fixings; their properties, characteristics, how they interrelate and the use of appropriate joining methods.
  • How different products, for example doors, door-sets, windows, staircases and interior joinery are expected to perform, and how they interact with the wider built environment.
  • Procedures for the safe handling and storage of wood components, products and glazing systems.
  • Environmental and sustainability considerations, regulations and good practice, for example the appropriate disposal of waste, recycling of materials and efficient use of resources.
  • Machines, equipment and tools used in wood product manufacturing including static machinery, portable powered tools and hand tools, what they are used for and their capabilities, correct set-up, use and storage, checks and adjustments, start-up and shut-down procedures.
  • Principles and uses of Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machinery in wood product manufacturing, their programming requirements and associated tooling.
  • Work and product specifications, what they are and how to use them.
  • Checking and clarifying work requirements, including what needs checking and why.
  • Types of faults and errors that do occur, investigation and rectification techniques.
  • Techniques for measuring and cutting components and products.
  • Assembly methods, how a product is assembled using prepared components from the manufacturing process, appropriate jointing and fixing methods to use and why (mortice and tenonning, butt jointing, screws, dowels, glues etc).
  • Techniques for installing fixtures and fittings to wood products, for example, ironmongery, seals, ancillary metal work and fixings, nail plates and staples, glazing.
  • Different grit sizes and the sequence of sanding for full finish paint and stain systems.
  • Different types of adhesives, and processes for their use including application methods.
  • Techniques for applying specified finishes to components and products.
  • Requirements for glazing wood products, for example, windows, door leaves, balustrading.
  • Processes for handover to other manufacturing process functions, for example, component production to assembly.
  • Documentation requirements; written and verbal communication techniques


  • Safety first attitude, for example applies a safety-first attitude when undertaking the work.
  • Adaptable, for example willing to accept changing priorities and working requirements.
  • Collaborates, for example works with others.
  • Pride in the workplace, for example organises work space efficiently and effectively.
  • Self-motivated, for example manages own time effectively.
  • Quality workmanship, for example works to agreed quality targets and standards.

Entry Requirements

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to take the tests for this level prior to taking the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 


Duration (months): 24

Professional Qualifications/Recognition

This is a level 2 apprenticeship.

Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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